Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Friday, May 12, 2017 12:00 am

Hoffman: No bullpen revolution on way

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

Why not utilize a dominant relief pitcher to the fullest?

During Trevor Hoffman's media session Thursday night, held in the early innings of the TinCaps' 10-2 win over Beloit, I posed that question to the retired closer who had a career ERA of 2.87 and averaged 9.4 strikeouts per nine innings.

On their way to an American League championship last year, the Cleveland Indians used Andrew Miller for multiple innings and at any point during games, not necessarily just the late innings. Could that be the beginning of a new trend?

"Not really," said Hoffman, now a senior advisor to the San Diego Padres, the TinCaps' parent club.

The fragility of relievers over a long season, Hoffman believes, won't allow teams to strategically call on their best relievers during different innings, at least during the regular season.

Hoffman's thinking is that for a manager to deploy his best relievers for multiple innings in the middle of a game and then in the ninth the following day, or some other odd pattern, would result in injury.

"I think it's something that can be utilized in the playoffs," Hoffman said. "I think for the bulk of the season, to try and get away with that, you'd blow someone out. It's not a recipe for success long term."

Still, Hoffman watched how Cleveland manager Terry Francona used Miller and really enjoyed what he saw.

"It's great," Hoffman said. "To have a weapon like Andrew, to have a guy that embraced it and not worry about statistics, getting paid and whatnot, it kind of showed his ability to adjust, giving back, so to say, to his teammates. I think it was a win-win both ways."

But it didn't change Hoffman's mind on the regular season and how using a top reliever in big spots, no matter the inning, would simply press the gas too hard.

"We see different phases of the game," Hoffman said. "You have spring training that you're prepping. You've got the first five months of the season that you play with a 25-man roster, and then you expand in September, so that's different baseball, and then you get into postseason and are playing completely different, so how you build a roster that's going to help you get through the length of a season but also prepare for a sprint (adds) a lot of different nuances that GM's have to deal with."